Office holiday party: The CX of it

Office holiday party

I’ve seen it a few places that the most popular time for an office holiday party is tonight (12/8), tomorrow (12/9), and this weekend. That makes sense. I know some companies and divisions that had an office holiday party last week/weekend, although early December does feel a little bit early. (Thanksgiving just ended!) Next week (12/16-12/18) is getting closer and closer to Christmas, and I’d bet a lot of people are taking part of that 12/19 week off anyway. Not the best time to have an office holiday party.

I started thinking about the whole concept. When most people find a blog about office holiday parties, they want to know about etiquette around them. This post won’t be about that in general, although here’s a good read from Monster on office party etiquette. (Sadly, here’s a different article that is literally titled “I Punched My Co-Worker At The Office Christmas Party.”)

First rule of the office holiday party: do not punch co-workers. Second rule: brush up on professionalism and etiquette, for sure. But because my work is in customer experience (CX), I wanted to do a quick post on applying customer experience principles to the office holiday party. Here we go!

Office holiday party: Treat your customers as assets

In this context, your “customers” would be guests. That’s largely going to be employees, although some companies do invite vendors and other external partners to these parties. Whether it’s all employees or a mix of employees and vendors, everyone in the room is an asset. Treat them as assets. That means the pre-work is done: you know how much food/alcohol are needed. You know who is speaking, and when — and what the message of those speeches will be. Try to devise a few ways (photo booth, games, etc.) to break people out of conversational silos. If marketing is only talking to marketing, you’re leaving good ideas and context on the table. If work is paying for the office holiday party (ideally they are), we might as well get a few good work ideas out of it.

Office holiday party: Alignment around experience

In this case, it’s about what the “experience” of an office holiday party should be. This needs to be fun. Get some Thriller dancing out there if need be. An important component here would also be the speeches, briefly referenced above. Sometimes at these parties, executives speak about things from their level only. That can reduce engagement in the speech and, frankly, in your employees. Talk about employees all up and down the chain. Call out examples. Honor and recognize people. Make this a fun evening rooted in recognition, respect, and some nice drinks.

Office holiday party: Build a listening path

Have past parties been bombs? Duds? Pavement-crackers? It’s too late this year to do anything, but create a listening path for employees and stakeholders after this year’s party. What was good/bad? Did food run out? Boring speeches? Not enough space? Valet was 25 minutes or more? Make a list of the issues by listening to those who attended. Then, for 2017, fix those issues.

Office holiday party: Reliability and innovation

In short, provide the things that people expect (reliability). That would involve food, drink, dancing, nice venue, conversational opportunity, coat check, valet, company’s picking up the tab, etc. Then, on top of that, innovate a little bit. Photo booth. Games. Employee recognition awards. A giant game of tug-of-war. Holograms of the founder. I’m riffing now, but be innovative. Make this an experience that all attendees cherish.

Office holiday party: Smash the silos

This is aligned with my idea of one-company leadership. Find ways for people in different departments to talk with each other and knowledge share. Maybe, when people enter, they get a color and they head towards that bar/food station first. The thing is, though: you sorted the colors so it’s all people from different silos. Now the conversations are different and you’re smashing silos! That’s how business works best.

Anything else on structuring an office holiday party?

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